The GOP's tax cut for the rich did not pay for itself and it's never going to so, to that end, Trump says he's going to order federal agencies to cut spending.
Speaking at the White House this morning, Trump said he's going to ask all of his cabinet secretaries to cut spending at their respective departments.
President Donald Trump said he will ask all cabinet departments to cut their budgets by 5 percent next year, after the federal budget deficit swelled to its highest level since 2012 during the first full fiscal year of his presidency.
“We’re going to be asking for a 5 percent cut from every secretary today,” Trump told reporters Wednesday shortly before a scheduled meeting of his cabinet.
What's important to know about this is that it's not going to happen. He just made this up.
Asking every cabinet secretary to cut their department's budget would mean cutting the budgets of the Departments of Defense, Homeland Security, Education, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Treasury, Labor, Health, Housing, etc etc. You know, basically everything.
Even if Trump asked the Pentagon to cut their budget by 5 percent -- which we know he's not going to -- they can't exactly do that. Spending levels are determined by Congress. Federal agencies sometimes spend less money than what has been appropriated for them, but only incidentally. Agencies can't arbitrarily choose to spend less on certain programs than what Congress appropriated. That's why defense programs are typically spread out among many states in the first place; to prevent politically-motivated efforts to defund them.
Now, it's good news that this isn't going to happen because it's a bad idea anyway. Cutting defense spending by 5 percent is not a bad idea, because Congress actually appropriated more money than the Pentagon asked for, but cutting almost everything else is a bad idea. Can the Department of Agriculture implement Trump's bailout for farmers and cut spending at the same time?
Between Mitch McConnell's words about cutting "entitlements" and Trump's call to cut spending, it looks like Republicans may be pivoting back to austerity. And if Democrats win next month, the calls for austerity will reach a crescendo.